SALT LAKE CITY — Some who say they know Timothy Troy Walker and Traci Lee Vaillancourt best believe that, together, the couple were "poison."
"Anyone who knows him is blown away by this. No one would have expected this," one person, who knows Walker well, said of the man suspected of shooting and killing a Draper police officer. The woman wished to remain anonymous because of safety concerns.
Walker, 35, and Vaillancourt, 34, remained in critical conditions Wednesday at Intermountain Medical Center. Neither was officially under arrest, but police were maintaining a 24-hour presence at the hospital ready for the time when investigators might be able to interview the two.
Walker is believed to have killed Sgt. Derek Johnson — shooting him multiple times without warning — and then shooting Vaillancourt before turning the gun on himself. It was unclear Wednesday whether Vaillancourt was shot before or after Walker. Vaillancourt's sister, Victoria King, said she was shot in the back.
King said Tuesday that she had voiced her disapproval of Walker to her sister in the past.
"I tried to get him away from her," King said. "She chose a different path. He was bad news from the get-go, I knew it, and the two of them combined, and a loaded gun nonetheless, and strung out on drugs."
The woman who knows Walker well said it was when the two were together that their self-destructive sides came out.
The woman said Walker and Vaillancourt originally met in school and then lost touch before reconnecting about seven years ago. She described Walker as a "big kid" and as someone who couldn't hold a job because he was "lazy," but also someone who was raised in a good home.
"He wasn't a violent person," the woman said. "Everyone who knows him would say he never grew up."
Both Walker and Vaillancourt have relatively minor criminal histories, according to state court records. Walker was convicted of disorderly conduct in 2000. Vaillancourt was convicted of theft in 2004. She currently has a pending shoplifting charge, a misdemeanor, in South Jordan Justice Court.
But King called the man "bad news." Until Sunday she believed he was "all talk" when he told stories about being shot in a past drug deal.
When King spoke with Walker's mother after the shooting Sunday, she said the woman worried about what her son was capable of.
"She said when she found out Troy had a gun, she told her other boys that 'Troy and a gun are not going to be good together,'" King recalled. "She was right."
Both King and Walker's friend have offered their deepest condolences to the Johnson family. Walker's friend said there is no excuse for what he is accused of doing, but said he wasn't always the monster he may seem to be from recent events.
Vaillancourt and Walker have a daughter together as well as a child each from previous relationships.
Walker's mother, Cheri, has been raising the couple's 5-year-old daughter since she was very young. Earlier this year, she filed for official guardianship of her, according to court documents.
"Considering the child’s physical, mental, moral, and emotional needs, it is in the child’s best interest for Cheri Walker to be granted a permanent guardianship of the minor child," a guardianship petition filed in 3rd District Court states.
It also said Cheri Walker had been "providing for virtually all of the care, housing, support, physical, financial and emotional needs of the child" since 2009.
The couple had been living from motel to motel for the past couple of years, according to Walker's friend. Police said they were homeless at the time of the shooting. King said her sister told her they had been living in their Volvo for about a week.
Vaillancourt has a rare blood disease, hereditary angioedema, that began to take its toll after Vaillancourt's first child was born. The disease can make the limbs, throat and face swell. King also suffers from the same disorder.
That's when Vaillancourt became addicted to pain medication, her sister said. Vaillancourt had four strokes before she was 30.
The pictures of the former model prior to her strokes are strikingly different from her latest mug shot.13 comments on this story
King said when her sister and Walker showed up at her house on Saturday, she was afraid of them.
"(Walker) got out of the car and he was all hyper, pulling out a gun that had a laser on it and a machete on the side, and some little knives he had in pockets and stuff," King said. "They wanted a place to stay or some money."
When they refused to leave, King said she gave them the $4 she had in her purse. She sent a text later informing Vaillancourt that she would keep her door locked that night.